Until recently I thought of myself as a critical mass of ADHD, OCD, disorganization and other major learning disabilities. If people could have scanned my body they would have seen a map with all the disabilities marked instead of body parts.
My disabilities weren’t diagnosed until I was in my 30’s and in retrospect I’m not sure that it was the smartest thing to go for testing. I had lived 36 years without knowing what was wrong with me, and had basically a great life. But….
I wanted to know why my balance seemed to be out of sync with the rest of the worlds. I wanted to know why I could read and understand almost anything, but couldn’t spell, and could only put my thoughts together in a coherent organized manner because I didn’t write creatively but was a technical writer where I just knew how things should be written.
I would (and did) apologize to a lamppost for bumping into it. I had lucked out in the looks department and knew it. I honestly thought that was the only reason why people wanted to befriend me. I had no idea why men wanted to marry me, let alone be my boyfriend.
I was diagnosed when ADHD and OCD were just being discovered. The testing psychologist who would watch me begin a test and then say “you really can’t do it can you?” told me that if I worked with him I would be his first adult patient.
I was very angry and walked out. I talked endlessly to my two other therapists about the differences between coping (which is what the testing psychologist said that I had been doing) and compensating (which is what he said I should strive for.)
I’ve always been an idiot savant when it comes to vocabulary. Ever since I was a small child I’ve been able to understand minute differences in verbiage. I knew that to be a successful project manager in large scale litigation projects I had to have been more than coping. My two therapists agreed. Unfortunately they had no ready answers.
I had always been angry but had never expressed it. Now I let the anger out. I began to think of myself as a brain damaged person who had never received the proper rehabilitation.
Why I couldn’t think of myself as a person who had overcome tremendous obstacles is beyond my comprehension. I cut everybody but me a break. Now I wonder why my big name shrinks hadn’t suggested that.
I kept on challenging myself to learn new skills and take on new and consecutively more difficult and depressing careers. It was as if I were punishing myself for having had been adopted by parents who loved me, having had friends, and men who loved me.
(I won’t get into the adoption equals ADD theory as I believe that to be rubbish in my case. I spent half my childhood, and young adulthood, in therapy arguing with therapists about being a “happy adoptee.”)
I have tried most anti-anxiety drugs, depression drugs and everything else. Nothing worked. Well, Prozac was great for PMS but I was a bitch the rest of the month. Zoloft made me feel like my brain was asleep and I gained an inordinate amount of weight. I forget which drug made me want to leave someplace as soon as I got there. I have a list on my computer of drugs and my reactions to them.
Computers made me seem organized. If they had been around in their present form 30 years ago I could have been anything. But they weren’t and I am glad they are here now.
There was a magazine article about ADD in the work place. I wrote a response to that and sent it to the author. She replied with a name of a coach. I have a therapist’s license; I have spent my life seeking out help. Yet I couldn’t help thinking that since most therapists I saw did more harm than good as they were looking at the wrong problems, I didn’t want any help. And all I could do was picture the testing psychologist taunting me as I sat at a child size desk and took the damned tests.
I was fast forwarding commercials one night when I saw one for Strattera. I rewound the commercial and watched it. The woman said that life looked out of perspective until….I had learned not to pin my hopes on anything but I had a doctor’s appointment that week. Before I could say anything he suggested it.
The changes were minimal at first. I did feel happier and calmer. As time went on I felt even more calm. This was new for me and could have been because I began true peri-menopause. I dared not hope.
After awhile I realized that nobody had yelled at me on the street for sometime for bumping into them. I was, despite myself, more conscious of my surroundings. I began to notice that I could take the time to do things properly. Then I saw that I had become more organized.
I’m only about fifty percent there, and while I’m hoping that this is the miracle, I’ve always longed for, I’m not betting on that yet. I do feel wonderful: Calm most of the time; happy at least half the time. I no longer feel the need to scream or be angry at times.
2004 is the year I reinvented myself–with a lot of help from Strattera, my friends, family and my doctor.